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I am an education junkie. I am constantly reading education blogs and listening to education podcasts. The moment I am faced with an obstacle regarding students or contents, I jump over to Google or Pinterest to find different strategies that might resolve my problem. One of my favorite strategies for student motivation that I have found comes from collecting data from the most important participants in education—my students. I truly believe in the power of student surveys and reflection; therefore, after every test I give, I list a student survey on the board for my students to give me feedback on what went well and what can be improved.
The student surveys that I post usually include 5-6 questions that not only require my students to reflect on their learning strategies, but also on their motivation to learn. The questions also provide me with feedback on my teaching strategies so I can adapt the next chapter or unit to meet the needs of the class I have right now. This is a very powerful activity that only takes a few minutes after the test, but provides me with a better understanding of each of my individual students as well as the needs of the entire class. Students are encouraged to be honest and are assured there will be no retaliation if the feedback for the teacher seems a little harsh. However, in sixth grade, students are still secretly eager to please the teacher and have a hard time criticizing the teacher’s methods. But the ones who are brave enough to provide me with some criticism teach me so much about my instructional strategies.
I use this writing activity right after students complete the test. We are on an electronic assessment site, so students get their test results immediately. The following are sample questions I ask my students to reflect on.
- Did you get the grade you expected?
- Did you work your hardest this chapter/unit?
- What did you struggle with this chapter/unit?
- What worked for you this chapter/unit?
- What is something you can do differently during the next chapter/unit?
- What can Ms. Brodock do the same or differently to help you during the next chapter/unit?
- What is something from this chapter/unit you knew really well, but it wasn’t on the test?
I only choose about 4-5 of these prompts for students to write about; however, I always make sure I ask the question about what I can do to help support them as we move forward in the content. The feedback I get from them is priceless, but this activity also ensures my students are reflecting on their own learning practices as well. Even if they don't know how to answer or they decide to give one of their unique and possible "snarky" responses, their brain still has to absorb the question and it can't help but think about how to answer it. This really is a win-win activity.